Black Elk Energy Offshore Platform Explosion in Gulf of Mexico

Coast Guard crews are searching for two missing crewmembers following a platform explosion approximately 20 miles southeast of Grand Isle, last Friday morning. Eleven crewmembers have been medevaced from the Black Elk Energy-owned platform to various local hospitals. Nine additional crewmembers were safely evacuated off the platform. The fire has been extinguished, and a sheen has been spotted in the area. The Coast Guard is searching approximately a 1,400 square-mile area around the platform.

The U.S. Coast Guard reports the fire has been extinguished and the platform is in sound structural condition. The rig is in about 56 feet of water, and workers report that an estimated 28 gallons of oil remained in the broken line.

According to Lieutenant Commander Solomon Thompson the rig was not used for drilling but was a production unit used to pump oil to the surface. It was not in production at the time of the fire.

The platform is located at West Delta 32 Block, located in the Gulf of Mexico approximately 17 miles southeast of Grand Isle. There were 22 workers on the platform at the time of the incident.

The cause of the incident is under investigation by the Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement and the Coast Guard will assist as needed.

Update 1: 18 Nov. 2012

The Coast Guard suspended the search for two missing crewmembers, Saturday at approximately 5:25 p.m. The Coast Guard crews searched a 1,400 square-mile area for more than 32 hours in an effort to locate the two missing crewmembers.

The Bureau of Safety and Environmental Enforcement has established a team to investigate the explosion and fire. The seven-member investigative team includes safety inspectors, engineers, safety management investigators, and law enforcement experts. The investigation report will include recommendations for initiatives to prevent a similar accident in the future.

Update 2: 20 Nov. 2012

Black Elk is expanding and enhancing its efforts to locate a worker who is still missing. The Company hired a second and third commercial dive boat and initiated a beach search with Plaquemines Parish Sheriff’s Department. A helicopter has been also contracted to fly in the area to help visual search efforts. In addition, tomorrow we will search the impacted area and other locations on the platform with a search & rescue dog.

One of the missing workers has been recovered and the U.S. Coast Guard transported the individual to its station in Grand Isle, La. The local fire chief and ambulance service received the body around 11:45 pm. The body was taken to the corners office in Jefferson Parish.

Sources: USCG, Black Elk Energy

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